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Lecture | seminar on Microsoft Teams

Is there such thing as a Confucianist Chinese Foreign Policy? A Case Study of the Belt and Road Initiative

Wednesday 28 October 2020
on Microsoft Teams
Confucius Statue at the Confucius Temple

As the largest emerging power of the international regime, China actively pursues opportunities for outward economic expansion. In doing so, the Chinese leadership is in favour of using classic Confucian concepts to explain the underlying motivations and approaches of China’s economic expansion. They differ largely from the traditional western International Relations (IR) interpretation of the Chinese foreign policy. Hereby, this research explores the Confucian revival in the Chinese leadership discourses in the context of Asian values. It aims to answer the question: how are Confucian ideas utilized for creating new meaning for Chinese foreign policy. We begin by considering how Confucianism fits into the current debates on universal norms and particularly Asian norms and values, engaging with the discussions about globalising the study of Regionalism and IR. Secondly, we reflect on the ways in which Confucianism has evolved over time and maintained its relevance for Chinese contemporary political thought. Finally, we contextualise the Confucian references of Xi Jinping’s administration by locating them within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has come to define Xi’s presidency. In short, we argue that a more nuanced understanding of Confucianist thought enriches our understanding of China’s contemporary foreign politics and, specifically, how president Xi tries to appeal to the domestic, regional, as well as global audiences.

Authors’ bio:

Beatrix Futák-Campbell is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Leiden University College, where she is also the convener of the World Politics major. She currently holds a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (2020-2022) titled Secure Borders which builds on her NIAS-KNAW Group Fellowship grant (2017-18 as PI) on Narrating the Refugee/Migration Crisis. She completed her PhD in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews and her MA in EU Studies and German and MSc in Research in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests include contemporary IR theory, especially Practice Theory and Globalising IR and EU Studies, EU relations with Russia and methods/ methodologies on how to study IR. She is also trained as a conversation analyst at the University of York and Loughborough. Previously she was a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, she taught at the University of Edinburgh and St Andrews, and she also worked for the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime, The German Marshall Fund and the British civil service. Her first monograph has been published by Manchester University Press titled Practising EU foreign policy: Russia and the eastern neighbours. She edited a volume on Globalising Regionalism and International Relations which will be published by Bristol University Press in early spring 2021. Her second monograph Theories and Methods in International Relations (Palgrave) is going to be published in spring 2021 too. She published in the Journal of Common Market Studies, and she has forthcoming articles in the journal of International Relations and International Politics

Jue Wang is a lecturer at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. She is a scholar of international political economy, with a focus on China, its external economic relationships and its role in regional and global economic governance. She also has a wide range of research interests in international economic organizations, international cooperation and the development of emerging economies. Her academic work has been published in, amongst others, International Affairs and Chinese Political Science Review. Her latest publications are ‘‘The rise of a constrained power in international financial governance: An analysis of China-IMF collaboration’ in Zeng, Ka (2019) Handbook on the International Political Economy of China (Edward Elgar) and ‘US–China Strategic Competition: The Quest for Global Technological Leadership’, Research Paper, Chatham House, November 7, 2019, https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/us-china-strategic-competition-quest-global-technological-leadership. Dr Wang is also an associate fellow in the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House. She regularly comments on Chinese and international affairs for media outlets including the BBC, CGTN, Al Jazeera, the New York TimesThe Times, and Newsweek.

To attend the event, please kindly follow the information below:

  1. Staff members in China Studies have already been added to the "China Seminar" Teams. The event is on your "Calendar." 
  2. Leiden employees/students can find the "China Seminar" in the Teams (go to "Teams" and search for "China Seminar"), enroll yourself. The event will appear in your "Calendar." 
  3. If you do not have a Leiden University email account, please contact Svetlana Kharchenkova (s.s.kharchenkova@hum.leidenuniv.nl). We will email you an invitation around 15:10 on 28 October (The live room of the event will be made available at 15:00, and the event link will be generated 5 minutes later).
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